FORT ST. JOHN, B.C – The owner of Northern Rockies Fitness says she’s prepared for when travel restrictions are lifted due to help from the BC Tourism Resiliency Network

Northern Rockies Fitness was created by Jocelyn McDonald five years ago, offering Nothern BC hiking retreats. She experienced limited cancellations once the province went into a state of emergency last year due to the pandemic, but that changed when travel restrictions were put in place. Now she is focusing on local with help from the BC Tourism Resiliency Network.

The program was created by the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat to support operators within the North, Cariboo, Thompson-Okanagan, Kootenays and Vancouver Island.

“The support I have received has been amazing,” says McDonald. “They have gone out of their way to help develop a personal business strategy that addresses my needs, helped me develop a digital marketing plan, and facilitated a small business grant that has provided me with some flexibility.”

The program provides support for the tourism sector with a team of experts providing advice, one-on-one discussions, participation in seminars, ideas labs and assistance in accessing federal or provincial programs.  The Secretariat’s role has shifted to help tourism operators adapt and respond to the pandemic by assisting them with supports and collecting data and research to inform government decision-making.

“The pandemic has presented tourism operators with unprecedented challenges, but seeing how the BC Tourism Resiliency Network is assisting people like Joceyln, demonstrates the value and need for it to continue and support as many businesses as possible,” says Northern BC Tourism Association CEO Clint Fraser.

McDonald is ready for when inter-provincial travel is allowed once again.

“When people receive the all-clear to travel, I expect they are going to want to get outdoors and enjoy a wonderful wildlife experience, and I am going to be ready to provide just that. It may be a different experience because a focal point will be to provide a COVID-safe experience. I will be doing everything necessary to ensure the health and safety of customers – but I also believe people may have more appreciation for the experience.”

More than 27,000 businesses have contacted the Resiliency Network for support during the pandemic in the past year.